God Uses Flawed People

Recently I was praying for someone who had walked away from church and possibility Christianity. Humanly speaking, he had good reason. Christians aren’t always the best representatives of what they are supposed to believe.

A parachurch organization that reached out to teens in my public high school was an important influence in God’s drawing me to Himself. Years later, my understanding of Biblical doctrine led me to a place that I could no longer support them.

My husband and I had a discussion last week about an institution we had both been a part of. There were glaring problems in the policies as well as in the prevailing attitudes of individuals.

Yet my sense during my time there was not, “Ugh, this is such an awful place.” I was aware of some problems, and came to understand others later. Yet God used that place to ground me in my faith and draw me closer to Himself. How can that be?

How can it be that an organization or group of people can be used of God while so flawed?

As our church has studied through the first few books of the OT, we’ve seen that God’s people have never been a showcase of pristine saints. One man in another church we were in, when asked in Sunday School what he was learning from the OT narratives, said, “If God can use and have mercy on those rascals, there’s hope for me.”

Some of the Biblical people that God used in a major way failed spectacularly.

This doesn’t mean we set the bar low. Our goal is not to be like the lowest examples in the Bible of those who followed God. Our goal is to be like Christ. We’ll never reach that goal this side of heaven. But as we behold Him in His Word, we should be growing in grace more and more like Him.

And depending on Him, filled with His Spirit, we can show His grace and patience to those who fail and falter.

Yes, there are times to walk away from a particular person or church or institution that strayed far from what it should be and will not listen to counsel. But if we “cancel” everyone who doesn’t live and believe perfectly, we’ll have no one left.

When we stand before God some day, we’ll give an account of ourselves, not anyone else. Though others will have to give an account of their failures, we won’t be able to blame them for our own. God has promised His grace for every trial, His way of escape for every temptation, His strength in our weakness. If everyone we ever knew failed us, He never will. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

When people talk about forsaking institutional religion because it’s so flawed, I want to ask, “Have you ever read Corinthians?” Talk about a messed-up church. Yet neither God nor His apostle forsook it. They took time to correct and admonish. If the Corinthians had refused to hear and rebelled, that would have been a different story. But they took the apostle’s warnings to heart. They made some changes immediately, but I am sure their overall growth was probably a slow process.

Isn’t that the way for us as well? If we’re still growing in grace and the knowledge of the Lord, we should be farther along now than we were a few years ago. But we still mess up. We still stumble over besetting sins. On our worst days, we’re far from the shining testimony we should be.

This is not an excuse. We’re accountable when we offend someone or make them stumble. We need to walk circumspectly and confess our sins to God and those we sin against.

Yet we also don’t forsake God’s people as a whole because of their flaws. The church is Christ’s bride, our brothers and sisters in Him. We don’t excuse or ignore flaws. Sometimes confrontation is necessary. But we also look for the grace. Instead of writing someone off or retaliating when they fail, we pray for them and seek to point them in the right direction, remembering we’re part of the same family. We love and serve and encourage and forgive and forbear. Because He did that for us.

Peter denied Jesus. James and John jockeyed for position and wanted to call down fire from heaven on those who didn’t run in the same circles. They fell asleep instead of supporting Him, argued with Him, thought they knew better than Him. But Jesus kept working with them, and look at them a few years later. That transformation is what we long for and pray for, for ourselves and others. Thank God for His longsuffering and mercy and grace.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:12-15).

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:23-25).

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

22 thoughts on “God Uses Flawed People

  1. I’m very grateful that God can and does use flawed people. It’s the only kind of people there are. His love and goodness can do wonders in a human soul, hands, and feet!

    • Amen. I pray that those who walk away from Jesus or His people because of their flaws will see His grace in their lives as well—grace available to all who will believe and bring their flaws to Him.

      • Such a good article, Barbara. I am grieved for those who have walked away. Praying they will see God’s Grace as we all need to do. We are such flawed sheep.

  2. Sometimes, I think myself the “Poster Boy” for flawed Ms. Barbara. Such an inspiring post ma’am. Thank you!

  3. Barbara, this is such a good point: “But if we “cancel” everyone who doesn’t live and believe perfectly, we’ll have no one left.” Looking for the grace, as you describe it, seems like a timely and helpful practice these days.

  4. When we are following God, we can trust him to work through us – isn’t it wonderful that he uses us despite our failures and brokenness? After all, he promised that his Word would not return void.

  5. Really good thoughts here! I enjoyed your personal experiences that you shared. I too know of examples where God has used a group, etc, in my life that later I have looked at and wondered about. There’s no perfection here on Earth, so yes it’s important to follow God’s leading and stay as close to Him through Bible reading and prayer as we can so that we can discern His truth in tricky situations.

  6. I’m so thankful He is gracious, patient, and loving towards us. And as you pointed out so well, He wants us to follow His example and be gracious, patient, and loving towards others. ~Lisa, IMM#2

  7. What an excellent post, Barbara! Carroll and I have been involved in groups before that as we grew we knew we needed to part company, but even in those situations we grew. Praise be to God that He uses flawed people.

  8. ‘But if we “cancel” everyone who doesn’t live and believe perfectly, we’ll have no one left.’

    Beginning with me.

    I love your reminder that we are in the same family, Barbara. May our love for Him conquer all the differences, opinions, and preferences that the enemy uses to divide us. May we keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

  9. When God limited himself to using frail humans as his agents for good in this world, he allowed the possibility for evil to run rampant! Thank you for your sweet reasonableness in addressing the sticky situation of our failures –and our right response to the failure of others.

  10. Flawed-I guess we are! Each day we must look to only one example, Jesus, n when those around us are less than perfect, you’re right, this should not deter us but rather prompt us to pray for them, as we hope they do for us in our failures. This is a wonderful post.

  11. Thank you Barb for such a well thought out post. I, too, am glad God uses flawed people, for I am truly a cracked pot! I am also glad He cannot be put into a box as far as how he works or who he uses!

  12. Pingback: July Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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